Emmy winners reflect on how 'freaking weird' it is to receive awards in quarantine

Kevin Polowy
·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
·6-min read
THE 72ND EMMY® AWARDS - Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the "72nd Emmy® Awards" will broadcast SUNDAY, SEPT. 20 (8:00 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. MDT/5:00 p.m. PDT), on ABC. (ABC via Getty Images) REGINA KING
Regina King tied Alfre Woodard’s Emmy record with her win for HBO’s Watchmen. (Photo: ABC via Getty Images)

“This is so freaking weird.”

Regina King summed up the 72nd Primetime Emmys — and very much the last six months on planet Earth in a nutshell — when the Watchmen star received the award for Lead Actress in a Limited Series Sunday night. King was already a few seconds into her acceptance speech live from her home as her Emmy, possibly delivered by a representative in a hazmat tuxedo, arrived. King was beaming in from her living room via one of 130 camera kits the producers sent to nominees. (See full list of winners here.)

“Backstage” at the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted show was really just a bunch of journalists in a virtual “press room” set up by the Television Academy for winners to answer questions via Zoom. And virtually all the winners had something to say about the absurdity of the so-called “Pandemmys.”

John Oliver, whose Last Week Tonight With John Oliver on HBO won Outstanding Variety Talk Series for a fifth consecutive year, was delivered his Emmy via a black box that spewed confetti and contained a plastic hand holding the award.

“This is different from the others,” laughed Oliver, who delivered his acceptance speech from the same nondescript room in his house where he films the series in, and who noted his kids were asleep in a nearby room. “Mentally half of my mind is on, ‘How am I going to clear up all of this f****** glitter?’ But this feels very nice. A decapitated hand gave me an Emmy out of a box and that’s how I always dreamt it.”

THE 72ND EMMY® AWARDS - Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the "72nd Emmy® Awards" will broadcast SUNDAY, SEPT. 20 (8:00 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. MDT/5:00 p.m. PDT), on ABC. (ABC via Getty Images)JOHN OLIVER
John Oliver's Emmy statuette popped out from a large black box with an explosion of confetti. The Last Week Tonight host was visibly shocked when the Emmy was thrust towards him and he joked about his surprise backstage. (Photo: ABC via Getty Images)

Jeremy Strong, who won his first Emmy when he was named Outstanding Lead in a Drama Series for Succession (which also won Best Drama), watched the telecast from the Bowery Hotel in New York City.

“It’s both a loss, on some levels, that I don’t get to be there with the community and with the rest of the cast of the show,” said Strong. “[There are] plusses and minuses. It does feel a bit incongruous with our world right now to be giving out awards to actors. I wish we could be giving out awards to people working on the frontlines and MTA workers and hospital workers and delivery drivers.

“But I miss being with everyone, and having a sense of the magnitude of it all. You know, I’m alone in a room in front of a computer.”

King, who won her fourth Emmy in six years, said she experienced more jitters at home than she would’ve at the Microsoft Theater, where the ceremony is typically held. “What a blessing to win four times. But something about being in the room, and being able to share that moment with your peers and your family and be able to look in everyone’s faces, get hugs and know that you’re going to get a hug. … I’m missing that.

“My brain kind of went blank. I didn’t get a chance to say, ‘I love you, Mom.’ Because it’s such a weird moment. I didn’t get to recognize my cast, which I know I would’ve done for sure looking at them out there. So yeah, I like the real awards better. Not that these are fake! I don’t know what to call it, man.”

Zendaya, who at 24 became the youngest woman ever to win Lead Actress in a Drama Series, was asked about experiencing so much joy in a year filled with anguish and turmoil.

“I’m just grateful for moments like this, moments where we can have joy and we can wrap our arms around our loved ones and tell each other we love each other,” said the Euphoria winner, who upset the likes of Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show) and Laura Linney (Ozark) in the category and watched the telecast with her family. “It’s moments like this that we have to all hold onto and cherish. So I’m just grateful that my whole family is all here to celebrate with me and be here. I definitely felt this wrapping of love around me as I was sitting here.”

Elsewhere, the Schitt’s Creek cast was in predictably good spirits after sweeping the comedy categories, the first time that feat has been accomplished in Emmys history. “It is absolutely incredible,” said star Dan Levy, who created the beloved Pop TV show with his father Eugene Levy. “I think my dad said it best earlier tonight, that it feels like a dream that you just don’t want to wake up from, to be perfectly honest. And that’s really how it’s felt for all of us. It still feels very strange.”

Despite 10 total Emmys for HBO’s Watchmen (including Outstanding Limited Series), creator Damon Lindlelof continued to maintain that despite fan demands, there will not be a second season — at least under his watch.

“It would feel like a huge betrayal of winning Limited Series to come back and say, ‘Well, it was only a limited series dot-dot-dot,” he said. “Watchmen is something that I’ve loved since I was 13 years old and someone else created it, and I feel like this was my run on it. If any other artist who wants to take the baton, I'll teach them everything that I know. … I think it makes the experience so much more special for having been just these nine episodes.”

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